11 Jun 2016
The first step in the process is preparing the notquilt comforter. I dug through the stash and discovered some fabric with chickens on it, some fabric that looks like appliquéd quilt blocks, and some more fabric with Pennsylvania Dutch birds. All of these fabrics share similar themes, blah colors, are intensely country in style and, to my taste, are awful.
I would never buy cloth that looks like this. These were given to me and now, after who knows how long they’ve waited, they’re going to receive their new life as the back of the cat comforter. This way they get used, and I don’t have to see them.
While working this out, I discovered that I needed to sew all around the edges of the cat comforter and while doing that job, I discovered that I have to unpick more patches as they are too close to the edge.
When you buy a cheap comforter at Wal-de-mort, it looks acceptable at first. Then it gets washed a few times and the underlying construction issues turn up. That awful plastic thread breaks and comes undone. The thick batting turns out to not be secured to the outermost edges of the comforter, and it bunches up to the closest seam line and leaves the edges empty of stuffing.
For these reasons, I do not recommend using an old comforter as your first NotQuilt project. A worn blanket is much easier to handle. You don’t have three layers of cloth and batting unevenly distributed. A blanket is a single, smooth layer and is much easier to manage.
Back to the notquilt comforter.
The patching process will take care of the plastic thread and as you sew on your new patches, you can rip out and remove the plastic thread.
Smoothing the notquilt comforter
For the edges where the batting has rolled itself up into a solid block or shredded into lumpy bits, you have some options.
Option one: If the batting isn’t torn up, set your sewing machine to its longest stitch setting. Stitch around the outermost edge, about two to three inches from the edge. As the sewing machine chugs along, pull the batting and the fabric as smooth as you can. The new stitch line will secure the batting and act as a demarcation line for where the new binding will go. You won’t need to sew patches past this line as this area will be concealed by the binding fabric.
If you feel up to it, before you start sewing, lay out the comforter on the clean floor, pull the batting as smooth as you can and pin it in place with a million pins and then sew all around the edges. This will keep it smoother than sewing without the pins.
Option two is to open the outermost edge seams and gently unroll the batting. Then pin and stitch it into place as above (2-3 inches from the edge) and add a second stitch on the edge of the fabric. This will give you two lines of stitching to secure the batting in place. You don’t have to turn over or otherwise enclose the raw edges as the binding will do that for you. If the edges get uneven, cut off those offending spots.
Option three involves more major surgery. Your notquilt comforter probably has an outermost line of quilting that is about 6 to 8 inches away from the edge. Sew all the way around outside of line, sew again about an inch away, and then cut off whatever is outside stitch line number two. This will make your NotQuilt smaller but it also means you don’t have to deal with the lumpy extremities. Binding can cover many sins but not all of them.In our next installment, we’ll lay out the various backing fabric and see which choices look the best and then sew them all down. I’ll also unpick the cat patches that are too close to the edge so they can be moved. I have to do this before I sew on the backing as the new seams will hold down the cat patches, making them impossible to remove and resew.
This is why you start with the backing fabric FIRST.